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Hypothermia: Care Instructions


Hypothermia means that your body loses heat faster than it can make heat. You can get it if you spend time in cold air, water, wind, or rain.

Most healthy people with mild to moderate hypothermia fully recover. And they don't have lasting problems. But babies and older or sick adults may be more at risk for hypothermia. This is because their bodies do not control temperature as well.

Make sure to follow your doctor's instructions for how to get better. It's also important to learn how to protect yourself from hypothermia in the future.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
  • To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids. Choose water and clear warm liquids until you feel better. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
  • Get a lot of rest at home, and stay warm.

To prevent hypothermia

  • Avoid illegal drugs and too much alcohol. They can make you more likely to get hypothermia.
  • Cover your head, hands, and feet in cold or wet weather.
  • Try not to sweat a lot if you are out in the cold.
  • Stay as dry as possible.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting clothing.
  • Pack a kit in your car that has items you will need to stay warm. It may include fire-starting kits and a lighter, extra clothing, drinking water, and food. You also can bring a sleeping bag. Two people can warm up more easily by sharing the bag.

If you see symptoms in someone who has been in cold weather, keep the person warm and dry and get help quickly. Symptoms include shivering, cold and pale skin, and slurred speech.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are confused or have trouble thinking.
  • You are shivering and cannot stop.
  • You are feeling clumsy and not able to complete simple tasks.
  • You stop shivering because of low body temperature.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.